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The NFL season is fast approaching and for many, the beginning of training camps, preseason, and the NFL regular season are holidays in their own right. The 2014 NFL season produced a number of stories and the 2015 NFL season should be just as interesting as the NFL has evolved to become one of the world’s biggest spectator events on a weekly basis.
With the season coming up quick, there is a number of things to look out for throughout the entire campaign.
Before the season begins, there’s a number of loose ends from the offseason that need to be tied up. Most prominently, questions still circle New England QB Tom Brady, his suspension and his appeal. Brady was suspended for 4 games due to his “general awareness” of the deflated footballs saga, and Brady appealed the punishment to the league. The verdict on his appeal is still pending, but will need to be issued before the beginning of the regular season. Whether or not Brady accepts the appeal verdict or challenges the NFL in federal court will be a continuing storyline until this entire situation is resovled.
Before the season starts, there will also be some additional attention paid to the major players who were given the franchise tag early in the offseason. The franchise tag is not a well-liked among players, due to its lack of long term security, and some major names have been issued franchise tag tenders. These include Dallas WR Dez Bryant, Giants’ DE Jason Pierre-Paul, and Denver WR Demaryius Thomas.
Perennially, a major preseason storyline will center around players competing for starting jobs. The most interesting is always those competing to their teams’ starting QB. A couple of teams with unanswered questions at quarterback entering the 2015 season include the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Houston Texans. Each team has a handful of potential names but no clear favorite to win the job, and this will be a major storyline through the run up to the regular season.
While the preseason is great because football returns after a 6 month hiatus, the regular season is the real focal point of the NFL season. The NFL does traditionally have quite a number of twists and turns in their seasons which is one reason the league is a joy to watch. Every year, an unexpected team seems to explode out of the gate, and open a season strong. Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals 4-0 start was not forecasted by anyone. Finding the 2015 surprise team will be just as difficult. Some early teams to watch out for include the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns, a pair teams that impressed in late 2014.
Before the season begins, there’s already a handful of games that can be circled on the calendar. The Week 2 matchup between Seattle and Green Bay is a rematch of a thrilling 2014 NFC Championship Game. The AFC Championship Game rematch between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts is another huge game on the slate and takes place Week 6. It will Tom Brady’s first game back if his 4-game suspension is upheld.
Players in new places is another key component to tune into for the 2015 season. A number of big names changed spots in the offseason which will lead to some new looks around the league. DT Ndamakong Suh made Detroit the league’s best defensive front last season, but now plays for the Miami Dolphins. WR Jeremy Maclin had a great year in Philadelphia but will now try to fix Kansas City’s WR woes. CB Darrelle Revis took his Super Bowl from New England and headed down I-95 back to the divisional rival New York Jets in a dramatic return. Last season’s rushing leader Demarco Murray departed Dallas for Chip Kelly and Philadelphia. Likewise, Kelly sent his star RB LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for LB Kiko Alonso. Philadelphia also acquired QB Sam Bradford in exchange for QB Nick Foles with both teams looking for a fresh look under center. Denver TE Julius Thomas cashed in and will play in Jacksonville next season, and there’s plenty more playmakers wearing new uniforms in 2015.